Josh Phillips and Rikker Dockum present talks at SYNC 2014
Graduate students Josh Phillips and Rikker Dockum represented the department at SYNC 2014, the annual linguistics conference that brings together graduate students from SUNY Stony Brook, Yale, NYU, and the CUNY Graduate Center. It was held at Stony Brook on December 6th.
Josh’s talk, “Testing the Creole Prototype Hypothesis: Evidence from Australian Kriol,” examined Kriol within the framework of McWhorter’s controversial hypothesis, and the three broad criteria McWhorter has laid out for creoles as a typlogical class: minimal inflectional morphology, a lack of lexical tone, and derivational compositionality. Kriol is notable as an English-lexified creole with an Australian Aboriginal substrate, while the bulk of data supporting the hypothesis to date have come from creoles with African substrates. Josh found that on the whole Kriol conforms to McWhorter’s hypothesis, with evidence for recent complexification.
In his talk, “A Tale of Two Khamtis: Language Classification in Southwestern Tai,” Rikker discussed the role of historical tonal analysis in Tai language classification. Previous analyses of the place of Khamti within its subgroup have been based solely on data from India. Fieldwork in northern Burma this summer found important differences in tones of the two varieties. Rikker proposed a new reconstruction of the tonal system of their common ancestor, as one part of his work in resolving the question of Khamti’s alignment within Southwestern Tai.